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I would like to assign every U.S. census tract its own unique classification on the urban-rural spectrum. USDA's Rural-Urban Area Commuting Codes (RUCA) is a good start, but it's focus is rural - it is not very useful when it comes to distinguishing areas that are CBD, urban core, inner suburban, or exurban within a metropolitan area.

I like the idea of the City Sector model, as summarized in the table below - sourced from a recent Wendell Cox article in NewGeography.com. However, this model is urban-focused, and overlooks areas that could be designated as micropolitan, small town, or rural.

It would be ideal to have a model that could thoroughly capture the full urban-rural spectrum without having to combine the RUCA model with the City Sector model. Does such a model exist? And if so, is it available at a defined geographic level (preferably census tract)?

Separately, is there a publicly available source for the City Sector model classifications at the census tract level, or is this something researchers typically build from scratch?

City Sector Model Criteria

  • Have you looked at the various ways to combine RUCA codes, as outlined at University of Washington? Perhaps one of these combinations would work for your study. – smiller Nov 5 '18 at 16:34
  • @smiller - Yes, and to be honest, the secondary code classifications made no sense to me. For example, their urban-focused codes are as follows: 1.0, 1.1, 2.0, 2.1, 3.0, 4.1, 5.1, 7.1, 8.1, and 10.1. However, by definition, anything that is encoded 4 or greater is outside of a metropolitan area, which should definitely not be urban-focused. I think I need clarification on their approach. – user1185790 Nov 5 '18 at 17:07
  • If this is open data then the place to ask may be the Open Data Stack Exchange. – PolyGeo Nov 5 '18 at 19:51
  • @PolyGeo - thanks. I decided not to re-post on Open Data, since it looks as though several others have already asked similar questions. From the looks of it, the best approach may be to apply the methodology used in the National Center for Education Statistics Urban-Centric Locale Codes developed by the U.S. Census, although the classifications are perhaps a bit more broad than I was looking for - nces.ed.gov/ccd/rural_locales.asp. – user1185790 Nov 5 '18 at 21:13

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